All about the flea circus in five minutes or less
February 11, 2021 11:06 AM   Subscribe

My favorite part is how it wasn't until halfway through the flea circus era that it became about the fleas instead of the miniatures, and what that says about the commonplaceness of human fleas vs miniatures.
posted by aniola at 11:08 AM on February 11 [2 favorites]

Here is an article.
posted by aniola at 11:13 AM on February 11

I suspect that I am not alone in getting psychosomatically itchy watching those.
posted by hanov3r at 11:39 AM on February 11 [1 favorite]

This is great!

I do shudder at the thought of putting a leash on a flea/dressing up dead fleas in tiny costumes. Though I do love tiny costumes.

I was a kid when I learned that flea circuses often had no fleas in them at all and I thought it sounded much nicer that way.
posted by RobinofFrocksley at 11:56 AM on February 11 [4 favorites]

The only flea circus I ever saw, as part of a traveling fair, pretty clearly had no fleas whatsoever — at least not intentionally. It was just a bunch of motorized trapeze swings, tiny carts moving via magnets (or whatever) and the "value" was in seeing the miniature stuff. I had no idea actual fleas were ever used.

That seems so much weirder.
posted by heyitsgogi at 12:26 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]

I thought a flea circus was, e.g., a couch you find on the side of the road.
posted by aniola at 3:55 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]

Coincidentally I recently heard the owner of a New York based Flea Circus guesting on a 1940s-era episode of Fred Allen's radio show and it sent me on a deep dive into this history. Really fascinating in a sad, weird, creepy, fun way!
posted by acroyear at 4:31 PM on February 11

Has anyone else ever used "flea circus" as a description to disparage some undertaking? I am thinking today of Trump's defense in the impeachment trial.
posted by mermayd at 7:06 AM on February 12

I was a kid when I learned that flea circuses often had no fleas in them at all and I thought it sounded much nicer that way.

Until watching this video, I thought this was the only type of flea circus that had ever existed.
posted by HeroZero at 8:07 AM on February 12

Likewise, and I was so flabbergasted I went and checked with my wife to see if *I* was the idiot, but no, she thought the same thing.
posted by The Tensor at 1:00 PM on February 12

I can remember a flea circus in the early 60s at Belle Vue zoo/amusement park in Manchester (Lancashire). It was a smallish circular pavilion with the punters standing around 2/3 of a table which the performers were on. I cannot remember if there was a screen between the performers and audience or not.

I am fairly certain the fleas were shown to us via a magnifying glass and baffled by the idea of flea-free flea circuses, what did people pay to see?
posted by epo at 11:44 AM on February 14

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